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Retiring On A Cruise Ship

Couple on a boatWhile recently assisting a friend who is researching assisted living options for a loved one, I was surprised to come across so much information available online discussing the option of retiring to live on a commercial cruise ship. I think just about everyone is familiar with the option of living in an assisted living home (i.e. retirement home or skilled nursing facility). But to see how popular this cruise ship option is--to take up permanent quarters on a cruise ship among so many retirees--came as a big surprise. The idea that a cruise is limited to short-term vacations just does not seem to be the case anymore.

Prior to doing any research, the first challenging reality (or so I thought it was challenging) that I expected to come along with living on a cruise ship was the cost. I based this supposition on the prices advertised on the Internet and on TV advertisements with high-end cruise lines for 7-day and 14-day trips--short-term cruises to expensive locations. Little did I know, but soon discovered, that a life at sea could cost significantly less than a typical retirement community.

Another drawback I thought there would be is that of feeling “confined” and lonely within the borders of the ship. But this, to my surprise, is not necessarily the case either.

As published by US News, the following six reasons to consider retirement on a cruise ship are an eye-opener for anyone giving serious thought to full-time retirement in this kind of setting:

  • Socialization

    For all the folks on a cruise, there is a large amount of socialization and camaraderie with your fellow guests and the cruise staff. You’ll also associate with a bit more of a diverse age group on a cruise ship than you would at a retirement community.

  • Travel

    While a retirement community may have some local outings, the primary advantage of a cruise ship is retirees get to travel to nearly anywhere in the world they want to go.

  • Entertainment

    A cruise has a well-planned itinerary and hosts many events on the ship to entertain the guests.

  • Food

    You don’t have to shop or prepare meals while on board. There is a large diversity of dining options availability on the ship.

  • Service

    Typical cruise staff and cruise lines pride themselves for their reputation of giving extra attention to all passengers. Retirees will benefit from the extra attention that the cruise staff is willing to make to ensure they are enjoying their trip.

  • Price

    According to CNBC, a reservation on Princess Cruises, averages $135 per day with long-term and senior discounts, not including medical care or excursions, said Geraldine Ree, a senior vice president of Expedia Cruise Ship Centers, a travel agency specializing in cruises. On the other hand, it costs about $229 daily for a private room in a nursing home and $3,293 per month for a one-bedroom in an assisted living facility, according to LongtermCare.Gov. Independent living or retirement communities range from $1,500 to $3,500 a month, according to HelpGuide.org.

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that when considered over a 20-year span, "cruises were comparably priced to assisted living centers and offered a better quality of life, "though land-based assisted living can vary greatly by facility, location and needs."

In conclusion, while cruising does offer a lot in terms of benefits and features for the retiree(s), it still may not be for everyone. However, cruising could be a compelling retirement alternative for some retirees who do not need significant assistance and love to travel.

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